5:1: “Mr. Fox”, by Asunción Álvarez

5:1: “Mr. Fox”, by Asunción Álvarez

This is the fox-hour.

Every night he stops in his hunt,

in his trail of chicken heads

and gutted rubbish bags

and comes to greet me: to hit

me with the shamelessness of his ambiguity,

with his intimate smell

of gonads and thicket and offal

which is hunger and life. Which is hunger.

I shouldn’t know, but

at crack of dawn he sheds his tail.

puts on a man’s suit, and tallies

his thieving accounts.

I shouldn’t know, yet I do:

for throughout my days

I feel the brush of his hidden tail

at turn of every corner

and his spoor, which is yours, pursues me

into my dreams, feral and red.

Asunción Álvarez is a graduate student in philosophy. She lives in London.

This poem probably came out of an assortment of things, as is usually the case: the English tale in its various retellings, Ted Hughes’s thought-fox, and watching one night a fox frolicking quite noisily on the lawn beneath my window.

“Mr. Fox” is for the fox himself, who didn’t like it.

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